THE MOST SIGNIFICANT HAZARD OF FLIGHT AT ALTITUDE IS HYPOXIA
Beside velocity and acceleration, altitude has always been one of the most fascinating adventures for human beings. Supersonic speed enables you to reach altitudes far above 30,000 ft. within a short time. The marvellous view to our wonderful world may hide invisible risks, such as loss of oxygen or cabin pressure. In such situations, one has only a short time of useful consciousness available to react and make the correct decisions, if one detects the risks immediately.
It is generally recognised that the most serious danger for aircrew is the decreased partial pressure of oxygen encountered at low barometric pressures.
Without the proper use of oxygen equipment and cabin pressurisation, hypoxia can quickly lead to incapacitation or death.
Time of useful consciousness is the period from the interruption of the oxygen supply of exposure to an oxygen-poor environment, to the time when useful function is lost. The individual is no longer capable of taking proper corrective and protective actions. It is not the time of total unconsciousness.
One may consider that the time of consciousness at height levels for civil aviation of 35,000 ft. is between 0.5 seconds and one minute. At height levels of 43,000 ft. the time of consciousness is between 9 and 12 seconds.
The time to survive is extremely short and if pilots do not recognise the symptoms of hypoxia, it leads to a fatal accident.
TRAINING IN HYPOBARIC CHAMBERS INCREASES AWARENESS AND AVOIDS FATAL ACCIDENTS
Demonstration and recognition of these phenomena, such as hypoxia, decompression or even explosive decompression combined with extreme climatic conditions of ± 50° C and 20 - 80 % relative humidity, helps one to overcome such critical situations by learning the appropriate recovery actions.
Prediction of the exact altitude at which physical and mental impairment may occur. There are wide variationsbetween individuals.
Demonstrates to the pilots the effect of insufficient oxygen causing the impairment of cerebral functions.
Demonstration with increasing altitude cause impairment in thinking and judgement, slowing reactions, lack of mental and muscular coordination, diminished vision and hearing, and impairment of memory. Eventually, there could be a loss of consciousness and ultimately death.
High altitude training at an early stage sharpens the recognition of hypoxia and is an important contribution to increase flight safety.
High altitude training to investigate the influence of low oxygen saturation in the human body, demonstrated by psycho-physiological behaviour due to rapid or explosive decompression.
Research and sports training at higher altitudes during extended and continuous operation of the chamber for several days or weeks and medical treatment against pertussis.
THE AMST DESIGN IS AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF TECHNOLOGY AND SAFETY
AMST`s safety team possesses a long lasting experience, not only in working along international safety standards like MIL- or DEF-standards, although they consider all aspects from previous incidents or accidents which occurred on other suppliers’ products until today. Inputs from our customers how to improve their operational capability are considered and highly appreciated.
CHAMBER STRUCTURE AND WINDOWS
The chamber structure can be either round or square in cross-section, consisting of a main compartment for high altitude training and an outside compartment to simulate rapid or explosive decompression. It will also be used as a transfer compartment in case of an emergency or as a washroom in case of a long-term research or training programme.
STUDENT SEAT AND INTERIOR DESIGN
The hypobaric chamber should never give the impression of a ‘torture chamber’ and the seats should have an adequate comfort; a training session could last several hours, it should look similar to a training room, comfortable, user friendly and it has to be cleaned easily.
The vacuum system is designed for highest operational availability and safety. It consists of vacuum pumps, shut off and control valves, including all sensors to measure the airflow and the pressure inside the vacuum pipes.
AIR CONDITION AND FRESH AIR SYSTEM
Provides comfortable climatic condition and contributes to safety. The fresh air will be pre-air-conditioned to keep the chamber temperature as selected. Additionally, the fresh air supply is designed to keep the oxygen content inside the chamber below the critical design value for fire hazard.
MEDICAL MONITORING SYSTEM
The aim of the medical monitoring system is to monitor the student’s health and vital signs inside the chamber by monitoring the primary life function of the students like oxygen saturation and pulse rate. The systems can be operated up to a height of 50,000 ft.
Designed according to ergonometric requirements and consists of two units, the main control station located at the front side of the main compartment and an auxiliary control station located at the side of the rapid decompression compartment. The master control console is divided into three sections, the control, the medical and the recording/debriefing section.
Graphic User Interface - GUI
Look and feel is 'Windows' like and intuitive. The GUI monitors the actual state of the chamber system, informs the user about errors and warnings, includes the trainee and operator management, the chamber profile database, creates and modifies profiles and reports.
TECHNICAL SUBSYSTEM MONITORING UNIT - TSMU
The TSMU is essential for implementing, start-up and for maintenance (remote maintenance) procedures. The component monitoring system, the technical part of the TSMU collects the actual state values of all subsystems and monitors the values on a visualisation system, which is implemented on the TSMU.
Depending on the number of trained pilots AMST offers two size options
HPO Model 12 + 4 - Square shaped
This model is designed for maximum 12 trainee and 2 instructor seats in the Main Compartment (MC) and 4 trainee and 1 instructor seat in the Rapid Decompression Compartment (RDC). The seats are installed on modules and can easily be removed out of the MC or RDC. In this configuration, the HPO can also be used for sports training or material tests. The HPO can be operated many weeks continuously.
HPO Model 12 + 4 - Square shaped
The HPO has an advanced air condition system with adjustable temperature range from 15°C to 35°C and adjustable humidity from 20% to 80%. In addition, a fresh air system combined with the air condition system is installed. The chamber air is exchanged every five minutes to avoid odorous gases discharged from the trainees. This chamber is designed along ASME and PHVO standards.
HPO Model 6 + 2 - Cyrlindrical shaped
This model is designed for maximum 6 trainee and 1 instructor seats in the MC and 2 trainee and 1 instructor seat in the RDC. The HPO has an advanced air condition system with adjustable temperature range from 15°C to 25°C and adjustable humidity from 20% to 80%. In addition, a fresh air system combined with the air condition system is installed. The chamber air is exchanged every five minutes.
HPO Model 6 + 2 - Cyrlindrical shaped
The HPO can also be equipped with a manual control system while still all the necessary safety systems remain in force. Design, calculation, manufacturing and testing are carried out according to ASME PVHO-1, "Pressure Vessels for Human Occupancy", and ASME, Section VIII, Div. 1, "Pressure Vessel Code".
On each HPO model, a material lock can be installed as an option. The material lock would be required in case of long-term training sessions or research activities. Via this material lock medical instruments, pharmaceuticals, food & drinks or any other small equipment can be transferred to the Main Compartment without training interruption.
Lack of Oxygen Demonstration System
The LODS is designed to enable the outside instructor to disconnect any trainee from the Oxygen supply without recognition. If the outside instructor recognises that the trainee has Hypoxia and is unable to perform the correct countermeasures by switching to 100% Oxygen on his regulator, the outside instructor can activate the oxygen supply.
SINCE 1986, AMST HAS BUILT SEVERAL HYPOBARIC CHAMBERS, ALL IN OPERATION WITH AN OPERATIONAL AVAILABILITY OF MORE THAN 95 %
HPO - MYANMAR 2014
In September 2012 AMST-Systemtechnik GmbH signed a contract with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The Hypobaric Chamber has seats for six trainees in the main compartment and two trainees in the outside compartment. The hypobaric chamber is fully certified by an independent certification body according to newest ASME and PHVO standards.
HPO UPGRADE - GERMANY 2012
In 2010, AMST has awarded the contract for a major modernisation programme for the existing chamber. The only remaining part of the old chamber was the chamber structure, the R/D system consisting of 10 R/D valves, the seats and a part of the medical monitoring system. The programme was finalised in November 2012.
HPO - LIBYA 2008
In 2007, AMST has awarded the contract; the handover was in December 2008 at the Aviation and Submarine Centre in Tripoli.
HPO - BELGIUM 2007
In January 2006, AMST awarded the contract. Handover of the system was in June 2007 under the attendance of Her Highness Princess Astrid. The equipment is installed in a new building especially designed to house the chamber and its equipment located in the area of the Military Hospital Queen Astrid (MHQA) in Brussels.
HPO - ITALY 2001
In 2000, AMST awarded the contract, handover was in 2001. The Hypobaric chamber is installed at the Institute of Aviation Medicine at the Italian Air Force Base in Prattica di Mare close to Rome.
HPO - GERMANY 1986
In December 1982, AMST (AMAG) awarded the contract from the East German Ministry of Trade and Economy. Handover was in December 1986. The chamber was in operation until 2011. No single chamber training had to be cancelled due to a failure! It was a fully computerised system with high requirements in terms of performance and features.